JCP: deals or no deals?

Answer: deals.

Earlier this week we posted that JCP CEO Ron Johnson insisted at an investor conference that Penney’s “marketing is really starting to connect” with customers … and that in 2013, Penney will become “a happening place.”

That was 2 days ago.  Then yesterday …

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According to USA Today: CEO Ron Johnson announced a strategic evolution to its plan to offer everyday low prices that customers could count on rather than the nearly 600 fleeting discounts, coupons and sales events each year.

What sort of “strategic evolution”?

You guessed it: this week JCP will begin adding back some of the hundreds of sales it ditched last year in hopes of luring shoppers who were turned off when the discounts disappeared.

Plus the retailer plans to hang price tags or signs for more than half of its merchandise to show customers how much off MSRP’s they’re saving by shopping at JCP.

For store branded items, such as Arizona, Penney will show comparison prices from name brand competitors.

Johnson now says: “I still believe that the customer knows the right price, but they want help” … they want a reference price to consider.

Bottom line: the experiment has served as a cautionary tale of how difficult it is to change shoppers’ habits.

Penney is expected to report its fourth consecutive quarter of big sales drops and profit losses.

After losing more than half of its value, Penney stock is trading at around $18. And the company’s credit ratings are in junk status.

Johnson admits: “Our sales have gone backward a little more than we expected.”

Really?

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